LaGrange Cycling Classic to return on Sunday

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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This weekend, the LaGrange Cycling Classic is set to return for its third year.

The LaGrange Cycling Classic is the third race in the USA Criterium Speed Week Series, which is an intense, competitive race on a closed-loop, multi-lap circuit criterium.

The criterium race is part of Speed Week’s series of criterium events taking place April 21 – April 30, over the Southeast from Spartanburg to Athens, College Park and LaGrange. LaGrange’s race will begin Sunday, April 23, at 2 p.m. The event is expected to wrap up around 10 p.m. the same night.

This free-to-the-community, high-speed, multi-lap cycling race will take place in downtown LaGrange. In preparation for the event, several downtown streets will be closed.

Spearheading the race is Bill Hunnicutt, executive director of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority.

He said the race will welcome roughly 15 teams from all over the world, with $25,000 worth of prize money up for grabs for different races.

Hunnicutt said the women’s pro races start at 7 p.m., the men’s pro race is at 8:15 p.m. and amateur races will take place all afternoon that beginning at 1:20 p.m. He also said he expects there to be around a thousand people attending the event.

“The series was started by the guys who started the Athens Twilight Criterium in Athens, Georgia, which is the biggest race in the country. They will have 40,000 people in downtown Athens for that race — what we’re aspiring to be like with the LaGrange Cycling Classic. The event is family-friendly, and we’ll have local kid races between the big ones, balloon artists, face painting and all that fun stuff for kids.,” Hunnicutt said.

The headline sponsors for the race this year is Buffalo Rock Pepsi and KIA.

“KIA of LaGrange has always given us a car that we wrap as the pace car, and we’re so excited that this year they gave us the brand new EV6 GT model, which is the new KIA electric vehicle,” Hunnicutt said.

Todd Parrish of KIA said for KIA of LaGrange to have the opportunity to present the EV6 at the race is huge for the company.

“For us to be a sponsor and have an opportunity for our car to be involved in the races is huge. There’s not a whole lot of folks out here with an actual GTE, even on a lot, but to have one here at KIA of LaGrange, down to Bill putting this high-profile car in the cycling race is huge for us and KIA of LaGrange,” Parrish said. “We like being out in front and everything and guess what? This car is also going to be out front among these wonderful athletes. It’ll be showing our talent as KIA LaGrange and this car will be showing what it’s about as well.”

Hunnicutt said as the day goes on, the race will become like a tailgate party where people can have open containers around the whole course.

“After the race, it will be like going to a football game tailgate, but the game is right in front of you the whole time. We describe the races as NASCAR on bikes —as a fan when you’re sitting there standing by the rail the racers come back here about every 65 seconds. It’s really fast and it’s fun to see,” Hunnicutt said.